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Need to Know: An interesting week on tap for Redskins RB Kelley

Need to Know: An interesting week on tap for Redskins RB Kelley

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, November 29, 5 days before the Washington Redskins play the Arizona Cardinals.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Off day

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 12; Panthers @ Redskins 20; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 25

Injuries of note:
Not practicing
: TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), G Brandon Scherff (ankle)
Practicing: LS Nick Sundberg
There was no injury report issued after the abbreviated practice on Monday. The statuses above are based on media observations from the early part of practice. An official practice report will be issued on Wednesday.

Redskins observations as they enter the stretch run

—It will be an interesting week for running back Rob Kelley. In his first three starts he running back averaged 107 yards per game and 4.8 yards per attempt. He his first dud against the Cowboys, rushing for 37 yards on 14 carries, an average of 2.64. One bad game isn’t going to get him sent to the bench and the issues against Dallas certainly are not all his fault. But another 30-yard effort with an average of under 3 yards per carry will get the staff looking at the bench at Mack Brown and Matt Jones. Time is running short and he needs to display some consistency.

—Long snapper Nick Sundberg was back at practice on Monday, at least the early part of it. If he is ready to play that could open a roster spot if they feel good enough about Sundberg to let go of Rick Lovato, who has handled the duties the last two games. Jordan Hill, the defensive end the cut to make room for Lovato, is still available. Scot McCloughan is intrigued by Hill, who he sees as a good pass-rushing prospect, and we’ll see if his interest is sufficient to bring him back. (Update: Hill is now with the Jaguars so he is not available to the Redskins no matter how much McCloughan may like him.)

—What are the big-picture keys to the Redskins winning the three or four games they will need to get into the playoffs? Tress Way, who is 31st in net punting average, needs to create long fields for the other team and flip field position a couple of times per game. They need to add 3-4 points to their current average of 25.5 per game by either improving in the red zone or scoring more often from outside of the 20 (and that included scoring on some special teams or defensive returns). They need more takeaways; they have had just seven in their last eight games including three with no takeaways.

—If the Redskins offense can get up near 30 points per game over their remaining five they will have earned it. Of the five remaining opponents, four are ranked in the top half of the NFL in defensive DVOA. The Eagles (1st), Cardinals (3rd), and Giants (8th) are in the top fourth of the league.

—I think most Redskins fans will be surprised to learn that the team is eighth defensive sack percentage. In raw numbers, the team has 28 sacks. The opposing quarterback goes down 7.1 percent of the time he drops back. Ten different players have at least half a sack and Ryan Kerrigan (9 sacks) and Trent Murphy (7) are in the top 20 in the league in individual sacks.

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Watching Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum, one quarterback definitely stands out

Watching Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum, one quarterback definitely stands out

The Redskins might be just in the beginning of a quarterback battle, but at Monday's OTA session, it seemed pretty clear which player would eventually win. 

Dwayne Haskins made a number of impressive throws while he was on the field, and while Case Keenum had his share of good passes too, the rookie shined. Even on the surface: Haskins looks the part of a franchise quarterback, standing 6-foot-3 and 230 lbs. Keenum is listed at 6-foot-1 and 215 lbs, but that seems fairly generous. 

When Haskins throws the ball, it zips through the air. He can go deep and has touch on his underneath routes. Keenum gets the ball where it needs to be, but there's a difference in velocity. 

Let's be crystal clear, however, that one OTA session in May will not determine the starting quarterback job. While Keenum and Haskins are both learning the Redskins offense, Keenum has proved he can stand in the pocket of an NFL game and make plays. Haskins has never seen the size or speed of NFL defensive linemen. 

"It’s a long process and I think they both handled it well today," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "Hopefully we’ll do better tomorrow and the next day and so on and so forth and I’m sure it will be a good, lengthy competition with some great players going at it."

A few, unexpected things stood out with Haskins.

Though he has a long windup on his throws, the ball gets out plenty fast. He also seemed quicker in the pocket than some of his NFL Scouting Combine numbers would suggest. Haskins certainly isn't fast, but he's not a plodder either. That said, Keenum does seem to have the advantage in squirting through the line of scrimmage and keeping plays alive. That's something Gruden really likes in his passers.

Both of the QBs seemed comfortable with their role in the competition. 

"It’s normal. I compete every day whether I’m playing football, playing ping pong, playing golf, I’m competing. I’m competing against myself. I’m competing against the defense. In the quarterback room, we’re always competing," Keenum said. "Competition makes you better and that’s what the spring is about."

Haskins sounded very tactful in his responses; respectful of the veterans already on the team in Keenum and Colt McCoy, yet also eager to get more work.

"I want to be with the best, be around the best, and compete with the best. All season I’ll be around working out with the best quarterbacks on my team," the rookie said. 

Planned or not, Haskins also seemed modest in his goals for the OTA session. 

"I didn’t have any expectations for today, I just wanted to execute. The biggest thing for me was going to play right in the huddle."

That stands out in stark contrast to the Redskins last first-round rookie passer, Robert Griffin III. Expectations for RG3 were out of control, almost immediately, and while parts of his rookie season actually lived up to the hype, that situation was not healthy or sustainable. It's smart for Haskins to set reasonable goals at this stage of his career. Calling plays correctly in the huddle will get him on the field more, and that will give him more chances to make big plays.

It's a learning process, and at OTAs, Haskins showed a willingness to start on the ground floor. In a world of egos and branding, that's a sage move. 

While McCoy was not present on the field at OTAs, he is in Ashburn. He will be a part of this competition, but he needs to get healthy soon. Gruden didn't provide much of an update when asked about McCoy, though the coach did say the quarterback should be back on the field for training camp.

McCoy knows the Redskins offense backward and forward, but without him on the field, Keenum and Haskins are learning the Redskins plays at the same time. And that means while Gruden is looking at a rookie and a veteran, neither player has much of a leg up on his playbook. 

"I think we have to grade them based on production out here every day. Every day is a new grade, every day you see how they’re developing, see how they’re getting better, see if they’re making the same mistakes over and over. But it’s a process, this is the first time Dwyane has had a chance to call plays in a live huddle and go after a live defense and this is the first time Case has had a chance to do that with the Redskins terminology. So, we don’t expect perfection on the day one, but we do expect the guys to know what they’re doing when we go out to the practice field, execute and then continue to get better each and every day."

Get better each day. Compete. That's the cornerstone of success in the NFL, and for the Redskins, how QB1 will find his spot.

"Somebody is going to rise I would think," the coach said. "The cream always rises to the top and we’re hoping that’s the case.”

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Reuben Foster believed to be lost for 2019 with major knee, leg injury, per source

Reuben Foster believed to be lost for 2019 with major knee, leg injury, per source

Redskins officials fear that linebacker Reuben Foster has torn the ACL in his left knee, sources tell NBC Sports Washington.

Additionally, there is concern about a more significant injury that could include the artery in his left leg, sources said. 

Foster went down on his first snap in a non-contact drill during OTAs on Monday after stepping on the leg of guard Tyler Catalina. Immediately, Foster fell to the ground, and it was obvious he was in intense pain. He was audibly screaming and crying while writhing in pain on the field. 

Moments later, the Redskins medical staff rushed out to Foster, and within a matter of minutes, his leg was placed into a stabilizing device. He was then helped onto a cart and wheeled off the practice field. 

After practice, Jay Gruden said the team was unsure of Foster's prognosis but did say, "I’m just very disappointed in what happened in his first rep as a Redskin. He runs through the gap and gets injured."

The Redskins took a major public relations hit by signing Foster last fall, and the team's belief was that his play on the field would be worth the controversy that enveloped his signing. Foster won't be playing in 2019, but remains under contract for 2020, and Washington will have the option to keep him in 2021. 

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